Understanding the Difference between a Step-down and Step-up Transformer

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meiji-transformersA transformer is needed to change the voltage of the power supply to meet the needs of specific appliances or machines.  According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, transformer is a device that changes the voltage of an electric current. What most people are unaware of, there are two types of transformers, the Step-down and Step- up Transformers. The difference between these two is very tricky, but the necessity to know it is very important. Wrong usage of your step-up or down transformer might affect and destroy our hard-earned appliances and worst it might cause serious problems especially to our families. Let me give you a scenario:

You plugged your 110V type of appliance, your LED television for instance, to your 220V outlet using a step-up transformer, what do you think could happen? Yes, it would immediately damage your appliance or worse this might root to a serious problem that will put your family’s safety at stake. Too dangerous to risk!

So you might be asking now, what is the real difference between a Step-down and a Step-up Transformer?

Step-down Transformers

Step- down transformers are designed to reduce electrical voltage. It has less wire turns in the secondary. Thus, decreases voltage. For instance, here in the Philippines, we have 220V electric supply. But since we have relatives or friends abroad who send us appliances that requires 110V supply, there is a need to use a Step down Transformer. Using a step-down transformer actually means that the voltage has been “stepped down”. Please refer to the diagram.transformer diagram


The 220V electric supply in the Philippines is being lowered to 110V, which is required by your appliance. Input is 220V and output is 110V. That is how a Step-down transformer works.

Step-up Transformers

On the other hand, a step-up transformer is used when the secondary voltage is greater than the primary voltage. It has more wire turns in the secondary. The common usage of it is a starter of an electric motor. It takes a lot of voltage to initially start the motor’s turning. A step up transformer is also needed to use a 220v product in a country with 110v supply. In other words, the voltage has been “stepped up”. As you can see in the diagram, input is 110V and output is 220V. That is the main purpose of a Step-up Transformer.step-up-transformer

So there you have it, the difference between a Step-down transformer and a Step-up Transformer.  It is better not to be so confused with the two or else you might regret the consequences, right?

17 responses to “Understanding the Difference between a Step-down and Step-up Transformer”

  1. Vineet Sikand says:

    Your article helps me, thank you so much for posting this!

  2. Sornino M. Tamondong says:

    Hi may i ask kung anong step down transformer para sa AC unit 100V 50/60 hz 610/760W ang kailangan ko please send me your qute.Thanks

    • John says:

      Hello Sornino,

      Ang Step down transformer na kailangan mo para sa AC unit na yan ay Meiji ST-1500 na may 1500 WATTS at may 220V input at 100V output. I’ll send you a quotation through email.


  3. eiliv aceron says:

    I just bought a lagermania electric table oven. it says at the back sticker 2200 watts, 230V. Should I need to buy a step up transformer so to avoid overload? I tested the oven for 45 mins using 2 extension outlets(the oven’s cable is short to reach the wall socket) and it melted the plastic surrounding the metal contact points of the 2 extension cables.

    • John says:

      Hi Eiliv,

      I suggest to use a step-up transformer for that kind of equipment. Meiji transformers can only handle 220V down to 100V.


  4. Patti says:

    I have a kitchenaid 110V 525W.

    What do I use?

  5. gaurav negi says:

    it’s really helpful

  6. GANESH KUMAR R says:

    Its very useful … but pls attached the animation videos and how to convert the voltages ….explain breif

  7. Mayo says:

    I have an Oster breadmaker 120V, AC, 60Hz, 650W and a Nutribullet blender AC, 120V, 60Hz, 1000W max — ano pong kailangan para magamit ko sila dito? Salamat.

  8. Juris Bergs (Mr.) says:

    I reside on Guam and will be visiting St. Luke’s Medical Center in Global City, Philippines. While in the Philippines, I plan to purchase an electric wheelchair with a 230-volt battery charger and take it with me back to Guam, where the current is 110-120 volts. It sounds like I would need a step-up transformer in order to use the charger on Guam. Is that right?

    • John says:

      Hi Juris,

      Thank you for inquiring with us.

      We have step up and down transformer 500 and 1000watts that you can use for electric wheelchair as long as the rating of wheelchair is within the capacity of transformer.

      Thank you!

  9. chloe says:

    I have an appliance from USA is required 110v and Malaysia plug is required 240v, so I should use step down or step up?

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